Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Precious moment with Diana

Angelique Reweti has vivid memories of meeting Princess of Wales.

Angelique Rewiti and her son, Isaiah, 6 months, with the photo of her, aged 8, with Diana, Princess of Wales in Auckland in 1983. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Angelique Rewiti and her son, Isaiah, 6 months, with the photo of her, aged 8, with Diana, Princess of Wales in Auckland in 1983. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It was more than 30 years ago but Angelique Reweti still vividly remembers the moment she met a young Diana, Princess of Wales.

At the time Mrs Reweti was an 8-year-old dancer in a production of the New Zealand Ballet's Coppelia, which Diana and her husband attended at Auckland's St James Theatre.

Being chosen to deliver a bouquet of flowers to the Princess was the thrill of a lifetime.

"It is still really fresh in my memory," recalled Mrs Reweti, 39.

"I remember all the TV cameras and photographers ... she was a real Princess, and when you are an 8-year-old, that's the stuff of fairytales.

"She was wearing the most beautiful lilac gown and she glided in on the red carpet. It was literally like a fairytale coming to life."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Photo / AP

Mrs Reweti spoke to the Herald with her six-month-old son on her knee. Now working in Maori health, she and her husband have settled in Palmerston North.

"I went up and had to do a little curtsy, and I couldn't believe she was speaking to me. It seemed to me like she had the voice of an angel.

"She just said, 'Are you dancing tonight?'. I said yes I was, and she said she was looking forward to seeing me dance. And I remember Prince Charles was standing by her side, but I was more enthralled with Princess Diana."

The St James is now boarded-up in a state of disrepair. In 1983 the theatre's management had worked furiously to attempt to rid the venue of the after-effects of vandalism the day before the royals arrival. Foul-smelling liquid had been spilled throughout the theatre.

"I remember the smell, it smelled of rotten fish," Mrs Reweti said. "Security was really tight."

A baby to care for means it's unlikely Mrs Reweti will get to see the next generation of royals.

"It really was a big deal back then. I think people are interested now, but it's not quite the same," Mrs Reweti said. "It was huge, I remember we had time off school and all the schoolchildren were waving in the streets."

Where to see the royals

Monday, April 7: Wellington Public drive to Government House via Oriental Bay.
Thursday, April 10: Blenheim/Wellington Lay wreath at War Memorial, Seymour Square and public walk; WWI event and Flying Day at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Friday, April 11: Auckland Public walk/drive along Halsey St to the Viaduct Harbour.
Saturday, April 12: Waikato Public drive/walk in Cambridge.
Sunday, April 13: Dunedin/Queenstown Ngai Tahu welcome at airport; service at Cathedral Church of St Paul, The Octagon, then public drive to Forsyth Barr Stadium; Queenstown Airport.
Monday, April 14: Christchurch Ngai Tahu welcome, Christchurch City Council building; various events around Latimer Square.
Wednesday, April 16: Wellington Walk through Civic Square.

- NZ Herald

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